We will go over two common experiences of state repression. The first is a stop on the street by the police and the second is the police visiting your home.
If you are stopped on the street, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and others:
- Ask immediately “AM I FREE TO GO?” If they say yes, then you can walk away. Do not speak to them about anything else.
- If you are not free to go, you have reached the second level of interaction, called “detention” or “a stop.” When you are detained, the police do not have to “read you your rights.” You may or may not be handcuffed or feel like you are “in custody.” Detention is a grey area between freedom and arrest. If police are still talking to you, it is probably because they don’t yet have enough information to arrest you.
- There are two important features to detention: *The legal standard is “reasonable suspicion,” essentially a strong hunch that you have committed or are about commit a crime. *It’s temporary. They either move you up (to arrest) or kick you back down (to free to go).
- It’s tempting to try and talk you way out of it. Don’t do it! At this point, you should say “I DON’T WANT TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS. I WANT TO TALK TO A LAWYER.”
- When you do, police are required to stop questioning you. Whether they do or not, it is important to state and restate this phrase. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a lawyer or don’t know how to contact one. Say it again and again, and eventually the police should stop talking to you.
- DO NOT LIE or give misinformation (this is not outsmarting the cops, it is playing into their hands)
- Our natural reaction to dealing with the police is to be scared and overwhelmed so you might just react and say something. If you find that this is the case, stop talking and say “I will not answer any questions. I want to speak to a lawyer.” over and over until they stop talking to you
If police visit your home, here are some steps to protect yourself and others:
- Don’t answer the door. Unless they have a warrant, you do not have to open the door
- If the cops come to your door with a legitimate arrest warrant, you may want to step outside your door as quickly as possible and lock your house behind you. If the cops come inside to get you, they can (and will) search.
- If law enforcement has a search warrant, read the warrant before letting them in (they can put it under the door) and look at what it is they can actually take
- At home with anyone you live with, practice asking who is at the door before you open it. Do not open the door until you know who is behind the door. Keep any exterior doors locked at all times. if the door is not locked, the police can walk in.
- These guidelines can apply to any physical space you are in